By Savanah Bandy 

Casey Williams of Pineville, Missouri, started cycling three years ago after getting a wakeup call about his physical fitness.

“I thought it would be a good idea to run in a 5K, but I was very disappointed in the results,” Casey said. “I had to walk half of it, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. I was concerned about running due to my knees and joints, so I ended up getting a bike and started riding.”

Casey started going on 4-6 mile rides and built up from there. 

“The first time I made it from Pineville to Cyclone – that’s 15 miles – I thought it was such a big deal. I put it on Instagram and everything,” he said with a laugh. “That’s nothing for me now.”

A typical week for Casey involves a long Saturday ride of about 40-50 miles paired with a shorter, 18-mile recovery ride during the week. 

The last two years, he has ridden 3,000-plus miles each year. 

“I’m 55 now, so it’s a late-life hobby for me. If someone had told me when I was 30 that I’d be riding a bike 3,000 miles per year, I would’ve said they were nuts.” 

Casey has a gravel bike and prefers hitting dusty country roads to be in nature and spot wildlife.

“Mac County is a beautiful area for gravel riders because of the bluffs, creeks and narrow, winding dirt roads,” he said. “I love to get out in the early morning or evening, and I see a lot of wildlife. I’ve had raccoons square me up and want to take me on. I’ve seen bobcats 25 yards off the road. I once saw nine deer cross and jump a fence. I’ve watched eagles fly over the creek when I was above them, looking down.” 

Casey started cycling to get in better shape (and eat whatever he wants), but the mental health benefits of riding quickly caught up with the physical benefits. 

“I’m a better person when I get done riding,” he said. “It’s a stress reliever and a release for me. I tell people sometimes it’s cheaper than therapy! There’s a sense of self-satisfaction to go on a gravel ride and be out from your home 30 miles and have a leaking tire and be able to fix it and get home without having to call anybody. But I’ve made friends out on the road, too, and people lend a helping hand when it’s needed.” 

One of those friends is Casey’s cycling buddy and mentor, Will Sharples. Casey said having Will to motivate him and give him pointers has made a big difference in his progress. 

“I would say to anybody first starting out to find someone to mentor them,” he said. “I’d also say it’s okay to enjoy a hobby and not be the best at it. Remember why you started biking and don’t get too wrapped up in getting your miles in or your physical condition. Just enjoy it.” 

When he’s not riding, Casey enjoys spending time with his wife of 34 years, Laura; their two grown children, Ashly and Dillon; and two grandsons, Deacon, 6, and Corbin, 4.